x360a Achievement Awards 07/08
Written Sunday, February 08, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Wow! We’re three! Who’d have thought it, eh? With our big birthday giveaway, we only have one other timely tradition, and that’s to get suited up and drink cheap champagne while we celebrate all that is right (and wrong) in the achievement world last year. Of course, I’m talking about the 100% unique and 100% totally original achievement awards; something that we proudly specialise in our little (it’s actually quite big now) corner of the world wide web. So join us as we have one drink too many and make an idiot of ourselves as we wade in to the people’s achievement awards.
For those who’ve recently joined us, the Achievement Awards are a yearly event whereby we celebrate and stone, the worst/best, quickest/longest, easiest/hardest achievements of the year (1st November 2007 to 31st November 2008) in a monster of a ceremony. Grab the snacks now, it's going to be a long one.
Easiest Individual Achievement 07/08
We kick off this year’s awards with the officially dubbed “Battle of the Ridiculous” where the easiest achievements battle it out for our first award. This year had some of the easiest achievements ever and this category could have gone to any of the nominees; The Simpsons, SoulCalibur IV, Live Score Tracker, Prince of Persia and even GTA IV. They all had either “do nothing” or “press one button” achievements but the prize has to go to The Simpsons, Press Play to Start because a.) 56% of you voted for it and b.) even the achievement mocks itself with the “easiest achievement ... ever” description, so it would be rude not to recognise it for its absurd easiness.
Winner: The Simpsons - Press Play to Start
Easiest Action 1000 07/08
This is actually a category that annoys me just to write about it. Usually there are a few runners in every category and there aren’t many landslides but this year there are a few and Avatar: The Burning Earth seems to be at the centre of most of the controversy. You can literally get 1000 points in under a minute and it’s that ridiculous, that sometimes even the achievements unlocking can’t keep up with the in game combo that unlocks them all. Seriously, this type of list ridicules and ruins the whole system. If you’ve got this piece of crap on your cards, congrats, you’re a certified whore.
Winner: Avatar: The Burning Earth
Easiest Racing 1000 07/08
The easiest racing category is usually a one sided category in years gone by, with some family racing title (Cars in 06, and Cars: Mater National in 07) taking home the cake but this year, we have two true racing titles battling it out for this award; Need For Speed: Undercover and Pure. It’s the classic “easy but time consuming” versus “short but skill is required” where the people in big numbers voted for easy, but time consuming Undercover to take home the award and we totally agree. After all, it’s easy to put time in to something, but to actually get good enough to do certain achievements is not so easy. Some skills, you can’t learn.
Winner: Need For Speed: Undercover
Easiest RPG 1000 07/08
The easiest RPG category is usually a desolate category and this year is no different. Why you ask? Simply because RPG’s are usually full of grinding and incredibly time consuming achievements. The overwhelming winner this year was the very popular Fable 2 list which although hugely original was fairly bloody easy. Its nearest rival, Fallout 3 doesn’t come close to the ease of Fable 2’s list and was always going to lose this race. The question you need to ask yourselves is; was Fable 2’s achievement list too easy? We’d like to think so, although credit needs to be given to Lionhead who certainly didn’t waste their opportunity at livening up their title.
Winner: Fable 2
Easiest Shooter 1000 07/08
Now the easiest shooter category this year wasn’t as easy as years gone by. Sure, Cabela’s Big Game Hunter, which can easily be classed as a sports game but the fact you “shoot shit” made us classify it as a shooter; its nearest rivals, Gears of War 2 and Quantum of Solace were miles off the pace. You’re looking at 6 hours for a Cabela Big Game Hunter 1k, where as the other two can set you back around the 20 hour mark depending on your awesome skills.
Winner: Cabela's Big Game Hunter
Easiest Sporting 1000 07/08
For the second year running with over 50% of the votes, EA’s Madden series takes home the slice of pie that is the easiest sporting 1000 category. The 09 iteration of the popular Madden series will set you back between 4 and 5 hours for all the allotted points at no real cost to your sanity. Will the 08/09 awards see Madden take how a hat trick of easiest sports 1000 awards? Only time would tell, but it stands a good chance going by their past track record alone; all but one of the Madden series titles have had easy achievements.
Winner: Madden 09
Easiest Arcade 200 07/08
This year’s easiest 200 point category is marred by two “games” that make you wonder ... “why the hell are these classed as games with achievement points?” These lame “games” being; Live Score Tracker and Live Draft Tracker. The Score Tracker takes home the prize for the easiest 200, but it makes you wonder what will get achievement points next? Watch out for next year’s winner “200 Achievement Points for guessing when it will snow next!”
Winner: Live Score Tracker
Easiest Overall 1000 07/08
Like the easiest action 1000, the overall category is just as much a joke. 5 runners this year; all of which were Avatar: The Burning Earth. Let’s hope that next year’s awards aren’t marred by potential “garbage achievements.” We’re not holding our breath though, it pains us to think how many people bought/rented this game purely because of the easy 1000 points. It’s a painful fact that easy achievements help improve a title’s sell/rental rate, especially when people either a.) don’t try, b.) exploit the system, or c.) suck. A case of all three this year for Avatar: The Burning Earth.
Winner: Avatar: The Burning Earth
Hardest Individual Achievement 07/08
In the blink of an eye we move swiftly on from the stupidly easy, to the “OMG, you need skillZ to unlock this chieve” category and not surprisingly, the four up for nomination are each incredibly time consuming AND hard achievements in their own right. The four runners were; Auf Wiedersehen Petrovic from GTA IV, Devil May Cry 4’s Never Say Die, Bad Company’s I Am Bad Company and last, but by no means least, Way of the Master Ninja from Ninja Gaiden 2. These 4 achievements alone are some of the hardest ever to grace our lists, but taking the gold by a nose length is Ninja Gaiden’s Way of the Master Ninja because it takes some pretty impressive reactions and combos to defeat the game on the hardest difficulty. I struggled enough on the easiest, ha!
Winner: Ninja Gaiden 2's - Way of the Master Ninja
Most Time Consuming Individual Achievement 07/08
Moving from the insane degree of difficulty, to the easy, but time consuming, and out on its own this year is Far Cry 2’s Warlord. Reaching Rank 30 is no easy feat, in fact, it’s a ridiculous feat, and to get this achievement you need to acquire 1.5 million experience points. It would be alright if you got 10,000 experience points per game, but you don’t ...you get 500, and that’s if you’re good. So a little math would put that to be around 3000 games; and at 10 minutes a match, that puts the final amount of gameplay for Warlord somewhere around the 500 hour mark. All that for one 40 point achievement seems like overkill to us. Even if it’s boosted, you’re looking at 150-200 hours! Ha. No thanks.
Winner: Far Cry 2 - Warlord
Hardest Action 1000 07/08
It’s the battle of the beasts here. 3 monster action games that not only require skill and time, but patience as well. In third place, GTA IV is sitting pretty with its 50+ hour 100% achievement and it’s insanely tricky Petrovic achievement. Then in second, slightly behind our leader this year was Devil May Cry 4 which may be a little longer to the full 1,000 points than our winner, but it don’t think it’s as hard. Taking the plaque for the winner of the hardest action 1,000 this year is Ninja Gaiden 2 because of the insane level of skill that is required to get all the points. Shorter than Devil May Cry 4 but it makes up for that in difficulty. You can’t teach those insane skills, they are birth rights.
Winner: Ninja Gaiden 2
Hardest Racing 1000 07/08
This is a little toughie this year. The hardest racing category over the past few years has been a mixed bag; with the heavy-on-the-drift arcade racer, Ridge Racer 6 taking it home in our first year’s ceremony; and the super heavy simulation action of Forza 2 last year. This year sees two of the year’s biggest arcade style racers duke it out; Midnight Club: LA and Burnout Paradise, but only one can win. This year, it’s Midnight Club: LA that takes home the cookie dough and the reason? Because the AI can be brutal and unforgiving at times. Maximum concentration needed on this one.
Winner: Midnight Club: LA
Hardest RPG 1000 07/08
The hardest RPG 1,000 category is possibly the closest category of the year with all 5 games full deserving their place on the podium. All 5 games here required either multiple playthroughs (Mass Effect needs as little as 3, as does Tales of Vesperia which needs about 2.5 playthroughs), had an insane check every location achievement (Lost Odyssey) or an unforgiving game that requires you to do every quest (Last Remnant). The winner however, required most of that and a little extra. Infinite Undiscovery not only had a frankly confusing name, but in order to get the full 1,000, you needed 3 playthroughs, with each playthrough getting supremely harder and the pinnacle of that, was a one point achievement you got for completing the secret boss on the hardest difficulty. Ouch! Great 5 way this year and it’s how we wish all the categories would shape up every year.
Winner: Infinite Undiscovery
Hardest Shooter 1000 07/08
There was really no match for the might that was Far Cry 2 this year in the hardest shooter category. As previously mentioned, the Warlord achievement on its own is a hefty task, but throw in the “Soldier of Misfortune” achievement that has you getting certain kills and head shots with every weapon in the online multiplayer, and you’ve got a mammoth task ahead of you ... and that’s just the multiplayer! If you consider the single player campaign as well which requires 30-40 hours of searching, running, and side missions with potential game ending glitches; and this is one of the most time consuming 1,000 points you’ll ever come across.
Winner: Far Cry 2
Hardest Sporting 1000 07/08
The hardest sports category is never known for its sheer degree of difficulty (discounting Tiger Woods ’06 – that was ridiculous) but this year threw one of the trickiest 1,000 pointers in to the mix. Tiger Woods 09 may have been a beasty 1k this year, but it was no match for Beijing 2008 and its hand spasm inducing gameplay. In other news, in 2026, the leading cause of arthritis in the world is predicted to Beijing 2008 and subsequent Olympic button mashing titles. True story ... honestly.
Winner: Beijing 2008
Hardest Arcade 200 07/08
So here we are; battle of the mini heavyweights. There is no doubting the popularity of the Xbox Live Arcade and sometimes, these tiny bundles of joy offer some serious challenges if you want their full 200 point allocation. Three of the kingpins this year were N+, Mega Man 9 and Ikaruga. Granted, Mega Man 9 and N+ did have some seriously tricky achievements, but for us and a lot of you, Ikaruga takes home the guacamole! Not only is it hard, fast and ridiculous to keep up with, but if you haven’t suffered a brain haemorrhage by the time you get 200 points, you get an additional life achievement. Achievement Unlocked – Survived the screen explosion that was Ikaruga.
Hardest Overall 1000 07/08
In what effectively is a mirror rematch of the hardest action category three way between GTA IV, Devil May Cry 4 and Ninja Gaiden 2; Gaiden 2 comes out top yet again. Not even the might of Far Cry 2 or Infinite Undiscovery can stop it from winning here and it all comes down to that skill level over time aspect again. Sure, Far Cry 2 may take longer, but the fact that a vast majority of people will lack the skills (me included unfortunately) to get all 1,000 points on Ninja Gaiden 2, means it will reign supreme.
Winner: Ninja Gaiden 2
Game With Most Glitched Achievements 07/08
This year’s winner of the “Mr Glitchy” category isn’t surprising really and the glitchy nature of the achievements mirror the gameplay of the final game somewhat. Of course, we’re talking about Mercenaries 2. With a game that not only has an incredible amount of potential in its sandbox and destroy everything nature, the achievement list does as well. What do we get though? A solid list ... but with more glitches than the Matrix! Whether it was the co-op, the millionaire achievement or the suicidal HVTs ... It was a painstaking affair to get these achievements.
Winner: Mercenaries 2
Worst Achievement Tile 07/08
Bit of a landslide this one if ever there was one. The Prince of Persia game itself was an audio-visual masterpiece with some great creativity and vision. We want to know what the hell happened to the game’s achievement tiles then, that had the potential to match the game’s artistic license. Instead we get 50 generic tiles ... snore! It reeks of laziness ... especially after you look at the trophy list’s tiles which show some sort of effort ). What gives Ubi? What gives!?
Winner: Prince of Persia & its repetitive tiles
Worst Publisher for Achievements 07/08
When looking at this category from afar, we weighed up the pros and the cons of the whole situation. Sure KOEI’s lists are pretty much the same and require too much grinding; and sure Square Enix has some pretty overtly intense RPG lists, but we decided to “reward” Ubisoft for their constant dosage of “meh” this year as far as the lists go. The sheer volume of fail here was enough to leave them standing head and shoulders above everyone else. Let us run you through a few of them:
Brother in Arms: Hell’s Highway – ridiculous date achievements, Prince of Persia – way too lazy on the whole tile issue and a list that rarely challenges the gamer, Far Cry 2 – the other end of the scale with it’s ridiculous 500 hour achievement, Assassin’s Creed – way too much flag collecting, SoulCaliber IV - full of generic achievements and Shaun White’s whose achievement list lingo was incomprehensible to the vast majority of gamers and it was glitches galore. *gathers breath* See what we mean?
Worst Achievement List 07/08
Before we move on with the major winners of the year, let us all point our fingers and bow our head in shame at the ridiculousness of Avatar: The Burning Earth once again. I’m interested, of all the gamers out there who bought or rented this piece of crap; who actually played the game through to the end. In fact, who played it after they got the achievements? Please, let’s not see any more of these lists. Sure, they’re great for an easy 1,000 but it kind of throws the consistency out the window when you see someone spend 500 plus hours on Far Cry 2 for the same amount of points.
Winner: Avatar: The Burning Earth
Best Achievement Tile 07/08
Finally, on to the positives and the best part of the show. From here on out we celebrate all that is right in the world of achievements, starting with the best achievement tile. There were some pretty epic tiles this year, most notably Gears of War 2’s Smells Like Victory and Saints Row 2’s Awww Nuts. In years gone by, the winners tended to be iconic tiles (War Hardened – Call of Duty 2 and Seriously - Gears of War) but it seems that people took a different view this year, and humour comes out on top. The winner is no other than Fable 2’s Chicken Kicker; there was something incredibly amusing about a tearful chicken that seemed to strike a note with our voters. Touché Lionhead.
Winner: Fable 2 - Chicken Kicker
Best Publisher for Achievements 07/08
Before we concentrate on individual winners of our two most prestigious awards, we like to focus on the publishers as a unit in a positive light. Those who truly had the best collective of games with great achievement lists. A close second this year was EA who deserve a notable mention for lists like Mirror’s Edge which needed a certain degree of skill to accomplish, FIFA 09 which had a solid list bar one or two achievements, the well balanced and quite amusing at times Left 4 Dead, and satisfying Dead Space. However, EA couldn’t hold a candle up to Microsoft this year, showing everyone else how people should design achievements for their system. Whether it was the utterly fantastic and original Fable 2 list, the solid and well designed Gears of War 2 list with its functional achievement tracker or the quirky and colourful Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts list. Throw in Mass Effect’s “I need to play this awesome game multiple times” list, Ninja Gaiden 2’s “you will not defeat me” list and Lost Odyssey’s “I am determined to see and do everything” list and there is something for everyone. Great frontline with solid back up.
Most Original Achievement 07/08
This is easily our favourite category and every year it throws up a few beauties and all 5 this year were 100% epic in their nature. Seriously, we need more achievements like this, they improve a list 10 fold. The nominees and their unlocking requirements were; Chicken Kicker (Fable 2) – kick a chicken a good distance, Psychotic Prankster (Fallout 3) – placed a grenade/mine whilst pickpocketing, Soprano (Saints Row 2) – your character has sung along to the radio, Over the Rainbow (Bully) – get 20 kisses from the gents ... and our winner; Swinger (Fable 2) – have an orgy. All 5 are absolute classics whether you’re focussing on the controversy that would ensue from the achievement (Bully) or the incredible humour and originality of them (Saints Row 2), but we can only have one winner, and this year we reward Fable 2, because where else can you be rewarded for being adulterous. Only in the digital world of Albion that is!
Winner: Fable 2 - Swinger
Best Achievement List 07/08
Here it is; the X360A super award ... the award that every aspiring achievement list designer should aspire to take home. The crème de la crème. The cream of the crop. You get the point. As usual the nominations were whittled down to 5 single lists, each fantastic in its own sense. Although there were 5, Bully and Gears of War 2 failed to have the legs to make the final 3, which are as follows:
Fallout 3 – The Fallout 3 list is a great example of encouraging the players to get the most of the game. Bethesda may not have achieved such things with their Elder Scrolls list but they sure managed that with Fallout 3, assigning achievements to a whole array of side quests that pushed you in to areas of the desolate Washington DC you might not have tread through without it. Mix in some classic humour (Psychotic Prankster) and some moralistic achievements and you have what we categorize as a great list.
Left 4 Dead – Left 4 Dead’s achievements have some living up to if they are to rival Valve’s Orange Box list from last year, but where it lacks in humour and off the pace achievements, it makes up for in balance and satisfaction. A good 500-600 of the points are easily accessible to most skill ranges, the next 200 then are available to those who apply themselves; with the last 200 being reserved for those who truly know the game and can work together with their unit. The satisfaction value of the achievements alone are unrivalled and there is something weirdly sadistic and satisfying about single handily taking down a tank, or cr0wning a witch. The wide range of achievements and that satisfaction that comes from unlocking them means that this one of the most popular and well crafted lists of the year. Oh, and we absolutely love the art style in the tiles and the game’s impressive achievement tracker.
Fable 2 – Easily the most original and creative list of the year but also, one of the most controversial ... but not in a good way. Despite encouraging the players to do random acts away from the main quests which is a great approach that many developers have proved can be successful (Valve – The Orange Box), Fable 2 threw a couple of curve balls that really tainted the whole list. The whole watching another hero aspect and needing the Pub Games to get the full 1,000 alone was cheap. Focussing on the positives though, the humour and originality is possibly unrivalled ever in terms of achievements and credit must be given to Fable 2 for that.
Fable 2 would have been a resounding winner this year but we couldn’t exactly sit here and reward Lionhead for a blatant disregard of the rules and a failure to acknowledge and fix them; it truly does cheapen the whole system and makes a mockery of it. For that reason, Fable 2 does not take home the gold, instead, Valve for the second year running takes home the most coveted prize of all. Two for two now, can anyone disrupt this trend in 2009? Computer says yes ... only because Valve haven’t got anything planned yet, ha! Maybe Half Life 2: Episode 3?
Winner: Left 4 Dead
Most Potential for Achievements 2009
We here at x360a love looking forward and speculating so it’s a great way to finish the awards every year. 5 games up for nomination this year and we’re excited about them all; Prototype, like every sandbox title has a fantastic potential for scope ... especially with the destructive nature of the title. With the new Halo: ODST we can’t wait to see the direction that Bungie take with the achievements, Halo 3 was a solid list with some absolute gems in it, so we’re hoping for more gems. And two of the outsiders were Alan Wake and Assassin’s Creed 2 which could go either way really. However, taking home the cherry pie this year with a massive majority, was Bioshock 2.
The 2K guys did a great job with the original Bioshock list by filling it full of humour, originality and some great tiles.We honestly expect more of the same this year with Sea of Dreams. Let’s hope 2009 is a good year for achievements, just like 2008 was.
Winner: Bioshock 2
To show how far the site and achievements have come as a whole in 3 years, you’ve only got to look at the voting stats. For the best tile category in our first year we got 90 votes, our second year saw that rise to an incredible 1,000, and this year, saw a huge jump again to 1,500. As far as total votes go, there was an incredible 23,731 votes this year across the 26 categories, so it’s safe to say that the bug seems to be catching that little bit more.
That about wraps it up for this year, a year that has been peppered with its highs and lows in the achievement world. The sheer volume of games does open the door to generic lists but whilst there are developers like Valve, Volition, Lionhead, Bethesda, Rare and Epic around, we’ll generally see an increase in quality and originality. Obviously as the system gets older, it’s harder to be innovative but still, the crème de la crème seems to manage it without breaking a sweat. A big congrats to Valve again who take home the big prize and to Lionhead as well who take home best tile and most original achievement. Good year for achievements? Undoubtedly.